CNN has reported that the Starlink Snowflake’s public statement that he’d keep covering the costs (the ones not being paid by the US, the UK, Poland, other EU and NATO member states, Ukrainians, non-Ukrainians) to keep Starlink running for the Ukrainian military was, like everything else that comes out of his mouth or across his Twitter feed, a lie.
Ukraine’s fears that its troops may lose access to Elon Musk’s crucial Starlink internet service deepened in the past week after 1,300 of the military’s satellite units went offline, according to two sources familiar with the outage.
The small, easy-to-use satellite dishes made by Musk’s private rocket company SpaceX have been universally hailed as a game-changing source of communication for Ukraine’s military, allowing it to fight and stay online even as cellular phone and internet networks have been destroyed in its war with Russia.
But concerns have risen recently over the dependability of SpaceX after discussions about funding were revealed and outages were reported near the frontlines.
CNN first reported that SpaceX sent a letter in September to the Pentagon claiming it had spent almost $100 million funding Starlink in Ukraine and that it could no longer continue to do so. The letter requested that the Defense Department take over more of the funding for Ukraine’s military, which it calculated would run tens of millions of dollars a month.
Days after the CNN report, Musk appeared to reverse course, claiming that SpaceX had withdrawn the request.
“The hell with it,” Musk tweeted, “we’ll just keep funding Ukraine govt for free.”
Negotiations between SpaceX and the Defense Department continue despite Musk’s claim that SpaceX withdrepw its request, according to a senior defense official.
“Negotiations are very much underway. Everyone in our building knows we’re going to pay them,” the senior Pentagon official told CNN, adding that the department is eager to have commitments in writing “because we worry he’ll change his mind.”
The recent outage started on October 24 and was described by one person briefed on the situation as a “huge problem” for Ukraine’s military. The terminals had been disconnected, this person said, due to a lack of funding.
The outage affected a block of 1,300 terminals that Ukraine purchased from a British company in March and were used for combat-related operations.
SpaceX was charging Ukraine’s military $2,500 a month to keep each of the 1,300 units connected, pushing the total cost to almost $20 million by September, the person briefed on the matter said. Eventually, they could no longer afford to pay, the person said.
The September letter from SpaceX to the Pentagon said there were almost 20,000 Starlink terminals in Ukraine. At that time, by SpaceX’s own admission, the majority of them were fully or partially purchased with outside funding, including from the US, Polish and UK governments. The letter claimed those sources paid for about 30% of the monthly connectivity bill as well.
For those of you wondering, the Starlink system designed to be moved around, which they’re marketing for RV use, has a one time $599 charge for the hardware and the service is $135 a month. Even if they were going with the higher cost business version the cost for the hardware is $2,500 and the service fee each month is $500. And I’m pretty sure from past reporting that the Ukrainians are either using the home or the RV version. The home version is a one time $599 charge for the hardware and $110 a month. If SpaceX is charging $2,500 a month to keep their units running, then the Starlink Snowflake is into serious war profiteering territory. He’s gouging the Ukrainian government, individual Ukrainians who are paying for these things out of pocket, the US government and, as a result, US taxpayers, as well as the British and the Polish governments and their taxpayers too! And everyone else donating money to cover the costs for this service. The guy is quickly moving from public nuisance to public menace to national security threat.
Here is President Zelenskyy’s address from earlier today. Video below, English transcript after the jump (emphasis mine):
Dear Ukrainians, I wish you health!
I held another meeting of the Staff of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief Staff today – it was quite long, three hours. We analyzed the situation on the front line in great detail – in all directions, on the energy front, the situation on the borders. The Commander-in-Chief, commanders, head of intelligence, Prime Minister, Minister of Defense, head of border guards delivered reports. We know what the enemy is preparing for. We will respond and continue to liberate our land.
Everything related to the defense forces supply support was also analyzed thoroughly. These are equipment, ammunition, communication, winter uniforms.
Countermeasures against missile and drone terror were considered separately – there are already quite significant results in this, the percentage of shooting down has become higher, but there is still work to be done. We must ensure full protection of the Ukrainian sky and will continue to do everything possible and impossible for this.
In the coming weeks, we expect good news regarding air defense and anti-missile defense for Ukraine.
By the way, today there were messages from Iran, from official representatives. There they decided to admit that they did supply drones for Russian terror. But even in this confession they lied.
We shoot down at least ten Iranian drones every day, and the Iranian regime claims that it allegedly gave little and even before the start of the full-scale invasion. Only during one day yesterday, 11 Shahed drones were destroyed. We know for sure that Iranian instructors taught Russian terrorists how to use drones, and Tehran is generally silent about it.
And if Iran continues lying about the obvious, it means that the world will make even more efforts to investigate the terrorist cooperation between the Russian and Iranian regimes and what Russia is paying Iran for such cooperation. There will be no such thing in the modern world that any of the terrorists or their accomplices will remain unpunished.
The situation on the front line did not undergo significant changes during the day. The greatest brutality of the occupiers, as before, is focused in Donetsk region. But constant fighting continues in other parts of the front as well – this is more than one thousand kilometers of the line of combat clashes.
Today, I would like to pay particular attention to the National Guardsmen who defend our state in Luhansk region as part of the defense forces. In particular, the soldiers of the 27th Pechersk Brigade of the National Guard, who, together with units of the Ground Forces, very effectively erase enemy equipment and the occupiers. Thank you guys!
We are doing everything so that you and all other soldiers have even more opportunities to chase the enemy. And the next weeks will be very important from this point of view – we are working extremely closely with our partners to get more tanks, more “armor,” more artillery for Ukraine.
I would also like to mention our border guards – those who continue strengthening the borders in Sumy region, Chernihiv region and Kharkiv region despite constant Russian shelling and provocations. In some border areas of our country, terrorists use mortar fire and there is a constant threat of rocket attacks almost every day. Thank you, guys, for your persistence and endurance!
This week it was possible to ensure the continuation of the operation of the grain corridor in the Black Sea. According to the results of seven days, 28 vessels carrying more than 800,000 tonnes of foodstuffs left the ports of Odesa, Chornomorsk and Pivdenny. The destinations are Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Algeria, Oman, Turkey, China and Ethiopia. Moreover, the ship to Ethiopia with 30,000 tonnes of wheat on board was chartered by the UN Food Program. And this is a typical list of countries that consume most of our agricultural exports.
It was the example of the grain export initiative by which we showed that the world is capable of guaranteeing stability despite any threats posed by Russia. The world did not succumb to Russian blackmail, key actors acted decisively, and as a result, the aggravation of the food crisis was avoided. This is one of the most significant international results of the entire autumn. When the world is united, terrorists stand no chance.
Another proof of the power of real world unity is the work of our charity platform UNITED24. Today is exactly six months after its launch.
Nearly $220 million received in donations from millions of people of more than hundred countries. Drones, helicopters, demining machines are being bought for Ukraine, in particular the very effective Armtraс machines, dozens of ambulance vehicles that are already used in the frontline areas. Star ambassadors joined the project: Andriy Shevchenko, Elina Svitolina, Oleksandr Usyk, Demna, Liev Schreiber, Mark Hamill, Imagine Dragons, Barbra Streisand, Scott Kelly and Timothy Snyder.
I thank every UNITED24 donor and ambassador, the project team and everyone who helps us defend ourselves against Russian terror!
And, by the way, next week we will launch another fundraising direction – we will raise funds for a fleet of marine drones. I think absolutely everyone understands what this is and what it is needed for, and I am sure that millions of people will support this direction in our defense. Everyone has already seen how it works. And this is only for the protection of our marine water area, we claim nothing that does not belong to us.
Glory to all who fight and work for Ukraine!
Glory to every our hero!
Glory to Ukraine!
I just want to reemphasize this sentence that I highlighted in the copy and paste:
We know what the enemy is preparing for. We will respond and continue to liberate our land.
Well that’s ominous. But it is always better to have a plan, than not to have a plan.
Here’s former NAVDEVGRU Squadron Leader Chuck Pfarrer’s most recent assessment of the situation in Kherson:
KHERSON CITY / 5 NOV/ RU troops continue to forcibly deport Ukrainian citizens within the urban area. These kidnappings occur against a backdrop of general looting of civil infrastructure to include communications, cellular systems & power transmission equipment. pic.twitter.com/7RqCRDbnNf
— Chuck Pfarrer | Indications & Warnings | (@ChuckPfarrer) November 5, 2022
The Russians blew the Oskil resevoir’s floodgates.
The russian occupiers staged a man-made natural disaster in the Kharkiv region.
While retreating, they blew up the floodgates of the dam of the Oskil reservoir. The reservoir, which before the invasion was 85 km long and up to 4 km wide, is now completely shallow. pic.twitter.com/BZ4rrHyiQk
— Defense of Ukraine (@DefenceU) November 4, 2022
We now have some fidelity on the numbers of convicts Prigozhin has been able to recruit to fight in Ukraine as part of his Wagner Private Military Company (PMC):
Our colleagues from @the_ins_ru were able to compute the minimum number of convicts recruited by Prigozhin since August and already killed by now. The number is 458, and is based on the consecutive numbering of posthumous award letters received by families from Wagner. pic.twitter.com/NND4Kr8dls
— Christo Grozev (@christogrozev) November 4, 2022
By the way, if you want to learn more about the guy signing those death letters, or about the origins of Wagner in general, you might want to (re)read our 2020 investigation into Putin's shadow army. https://t.co/MKQRW66X6n
— Christo Grozev (@christogrozev) November 5, 2022
The Insider‘s reporting also gives us a total of the number of Wagner PMCs killed fighting in Ukraine; non-convict and convict alike:
At the same time, according to the Center, the total number of Wagner PMC mercenaries killed in Ukraine (including both convicts and ordinary mercenaries) is from 800 to 1,000 people.
The Center being referenced here is the Ukrainian Center for the Study and Counteraction of Hybrid Threats.
Here’s some good news regarding Ukraine’s power grid:
Antony Blinken's comments suggest that the G7 countries will help Ukraine restore the grid
Germany has called for direct assistance to Ukraine to help prepare for the winter collapse of the electricity grid
— Samuel Ramani (@SamRamani2) November 5, 2022
Got another word for you today
🦊Fox Лисиця (Lysytsya)
Isn't he beautiful?
I now want to learn fox in your language❤️
— Sofia Ukraini (@SlavaUk30722777) November 5, 2022
The fox knows many things…
Politico has reported that the US, via the DOD, is going to pay to refurbish and upgrade 45 T-72 tanks for Ukraine while the Netherlands is going to fund another 45.
The Pentagon will pay for the Czech Republic to upgrade 45 Soviet-era T-72 tanks for use in Ukraine, as part of the Biden administration’s latest $400 million package of military aid for the country, the department announced Friday.
Meanwhile, the Netherlands will fund the refurbishment of another 45 Czech T-72 tanks for a total of 90 that are set to begin arriving in Ukraine by the end of the year, said Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh.
Other NATO countries, including Poland, have already donated hundreds of older T-72s to Kyiv. But this is the first time the United States is paying the Czech defense industrial base to upgrade the tanks, Singh said. The refurbishment will include adding new optics, communications and armor, according to a U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the specifics of the deal.
Upgraded tanks will be crucial on the battlefield, Singh said, as Ukraine continues to try to take back territory in the northeast in Kharkiv and in the southern Kherson region.
Kyiv has pushed for western tanks, such as the U.S.-made Abrams or the German Leopard, but neither country has agreed to send them. The U.S.has hesitated to provide Abrams, which guzzle fuel and would require training for the Ukrainians to use.
“Introducing a new main battle tank … would be a huge undertaking for the Ukrainian forces,” Singh said. “We do continue to consult with our allies and partners to assess our ability on what we can provide in terms of western armored platforms but these [T-72] tanks we will believe will make a difference on the battlefield.”
In another first, the latest U.S. aid package also includes funding to upgrade a number of American Hawk air defense missiles for use in Ukraine, Singh said. The Hawk missile is an older, surface-to-air guided missile that the U.S. no longer uses, and has longer range than the Stinger anti-air missiles the U.S. provided this year. The missiles will complement the Hawk launchers Spain recently committed to sending to Kyiv, she said.
The new air defense equipment will help Ukraine defend against “brutal” attacks from Russian drones and cruise missiles, Singh added, although she declined to say how many missiles would be transferred or to give an exact timeline for the delivery.
The package also includes money to send 250 M1117 armored vehicles for the first time, as well as 40 riverine boats, and 1,100 Phoenix Ghost drones, according to a release from the State Department.
Here’s President Zelenksyy’s response:
Zelenskyy responds: https://t.co/a56bFeDMlp
— Chris (@chrstphr_woody) November 4, 2022
And Ukrainian Foreign Minister Kuleba’s:
I am grateful to the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, and the U.S. for their joint decision to provide 90 T-72 tanks to Ukraine. First 26 repaired and modernized tanks will arrive within the next month. Thank you, friends, for your unwavering solidarity with Ukraine.
— Dmytro Kuleba (@DmytroKuleba) November 4, 2022
Morning, world ☀️
— Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine – Ukrainian Parliament (@ua_parliament) November 5, 2022
That’s enough for tonight.
Your daily Patron!
— Patron (@PatronDsns) November 5, 2022
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Part two😅 #PatrontheDog #PatronDSNS